Current Research

I am scholar of early American history focused on Native American, early settler, Midwestern, and environmental history. My research is broadly concerned with the intersection of power, the environment, and human beings. In particular I investigate how the access and control of environmental resources impacted socio-political relations in the nineteenth-century Great Lakes.

My recent article published in the Journal of Borderlands Studies entitled “Borders of Authority: Power in the Canadian Borderlands at the 1844 Jesuit-Anishinaabeg Debate” examines a series of conversations and confrontations between an Anishinaabeg ogimaa, Oshawana and a Jesuit priest Fr. Pierre Chazelle. Differing understandings of the natural world contributed to the conflict.

Research linking Indigenous history and environmental history continues to illuminate new insights into the history of settlement in the United States. My essay for the H-Net Book Channel, “Historical Perspectives on Tribal Sovereignty and the Environment” explores how historical scholarship has linked tribal power and access to environmental resources. In an essay for the JER’s The Panorama I explore how treaties rest as the foundation of the United States federal government relationship to Native American tribes. My essay “Sovereign Nations: An Introduction to the Nation-to-Nation Treaty Relationship Between the United States and American Indian Tribes” serves a premier for those seeking to incorporate treaties into their classes.

My dissertation research centered on the importance of manoomin (wild rice) and ziinzibaakwad (maple sugar) to the western Ojibwe and eastern Dakota villages in the western Great Lakes borderlands. The intersection of kinship, power, and access to these vital environmental resources merged at the 1825 Prairie du Chien Treaty Council. I analyze to what extent these elements influenced the events of the council.  More information on this project can be found the Book Research Project section. I am currently working on an article tentatively entitled, “Indigenous Borderlands of the Great Lakes” which builds on my dissertation research.

During the summer of 2017 I served as an Associate Editor/Research for the “Pioneer Girl Project” at the South Dakota Historical Society Press. I conducted background and historical research on the Ingalls family as they move through the Midwest and into the West during the second half of the nineteenth-century. More information about the project can be found on the project’s website.

I continue to seek opportunities to bridge research produced in academic settings with the greater public conversation. To better further those aims I also occasionally blog for the East Side Freedom Library in Saint Paul, MN. Recent posts include a review of Martin Cases’s The Relentless Business of Treaties and a companion piece for the “Why Treaties Matters Exhibit” that visited the library in April of 2019. Additionally I have produced shorter pieces for encyclopedia including one for the The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee entitled “Indigenous Milwaukee in the Age of Empires.”